Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gagne by Thomas

Robert Gagne’s proposition of the nine-step process-event can be considered as helpful for successful classroom instruction. This was the topic of discussion for last week’s SLATT training.

Allow me to delve a little on the first part of Gagne’s offering, that is “Gaining Attention”. It is very true that students focused attention is mandatory in accomplishing effective learning. There are indeed many ways of gaining the attention of the student. The participants, proposed the following - music, multimedia presentation, a warm-up talk, an interesting anecdote as some of the ways we can achieve this. And once we set this atmosphere or tone of the class , the proceeding events become better manageable.

A note of caution though.

Today, the ‘gaining attention’ sequence of teaching a class can be a questionable endeavour. There are no instruments of measure to ascertain that attention has been gained. This part is determined by the behavioural observation of the teacher. Can the teacher be sure that attention has been gained? Have we not heard of students who are physically in the classroom yet they are not: mentally speaking. This is another problem area that educators need to contend with. Thus, this, is yet another challenge to be borne in mind.

What suggestion can we offer? Students should come to class with an anticipation to learn, because motivated students fulfill this requirement. Motivation is the key determinant that acts as a denominator for all aspects of learning in a student. A motivated mind is clear and focused. Such a conditioning must take place even before the student reaches class. Can we be certain that all students who get to our class are in such a mental state? Gagne’s pointers then, should also be examined in the light of such constraints. What kind or prior preparation, on the part of students and those around him, ( who are likewise concerned with his academic attainment ), can do, on an on-going basis to attain this level of anticipation and attention.

Parents should pay careful attention in preparing their children for school as well. Perhaps counselors should help educators by having a dynamic and on-going relationship with the students, to offer the kind of surrogate parental care from a social, spiritual, personal and mental point of view, so that the child is constantly tuned to be ready for class, to be really ready when the teacher calls to gain his attention. Such actions can eliminate students especially college going ones coming to class with lovelorn and broken hearted relationship before them, social deprivation, stress and feelings of inadequacy from negative peer pressure, broken homes and a host of others that deprive these students from engaging truly in the class instruction process, so that Gagne’s proposition can be given a chance to work. If we fail in this then we will continue to get students who are low performers inspite of our excellent instruction.

George Thomas


Jeff said...

Yup. Gaining attention is important in any lesson that we are planning to start. If it doesn't work to what we want it to, a whole class's plan of teching may actually crumble (thank god mine didn't though!!! :P)

Anyways, continuing from George's "gaining attention" I'll just leave a bit of "posting" in the final step of Gagne - Enhance retention and transfer (I don't know how to post... can't find the post button :o)

Well, there are a plenty ways to do this actually, and to me, we do have to see how relative retention and transfer is actually to the students. Of course, this step is to basically get the students to remember and apply what they have studied in the class for the future, be it academically or socially.

Now, some basic ones include rewards and praises after a class, and this is usually for the ones that have done well.
Quizzes and homeworks are another form of getting the students to remember too. By giving them work to do, the students would have to actually sit through their studies again (if they don't get it the first class. this would of course increase their chances of remembering what they went through.
A report or reflective summary is actually a good method in gauging how well the students understand a lesson. This not only enhances their retention ability, but as they need to write a summary/report, it is to me a good way to gauge ourselves; the educators how well we have done. by their summary, we can actually 'see' both students' and educators' standard in a class. We can use their report as a method of reflection into improving a certain part of teaching and such too.
Well, enough of that. For me personally, as I have 3 classes of 2 hours lesson every week; I would try to enhance my kids' retention on what they have understood by asking them to prepare for a presentation or work that is related to it the next class. Now this is not a repeat presentation, but I would add some work in it, by asking them to add certain unfound facts and such. This way, not only they would try their best to remember and present but would study more than just the basic textbook.
In cases of team works, it is better as they can coordinate what they would do then.
Well, that's that...

Elona Hartjes said...

I found this discussion about getting a student's attention interesting. I teach at the high school level, and I found that I can get my students' attention by rewards but find that meeting my student's needs works better. I am very interested in strategies that motivate students and have shared my experience here I invite you to read what I've said and comment on it. I wonder if what I've learned about motivating students could apply at the college level. I'd be interested to hear your opinion. thanks.